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BJP could fight 31 seats, Shinde 13, Pawar 4.
Mar 14, 2024 02:21 pm

The state's ruling coalition is close to a Lok Sabha seat-sharing formula after much haggling between its three allies. The state's ruling coalition is close to a Lok Sabha seat-sharing formula after much deliberation between its three allies. The Eknath Shinde Shiv Sena and Ajit Pawar NCP are projected to draw 13 and four seats, respectively, while the BJP will contest 31.The Shinde Sena's 13 seats come with a catch: the party would “borrow” BJP nominees for two seats to boost the alliance's chances. BJP candidates have been announced for 20 of the 23 seats it won in 2019. Candidates include union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal, and Raosaheb Danve. Although the seat-sharing formula is expected to be announced  ahead of prime minister Narendra Modi's dinner for NDA allies, several rounds of meetings over the last few days have finalized the number of seats for each partner. After meeting with government home minister Amit Shah in Mumbai this week, Shinde put his foot down and kept the Shiv Sena's sitting constituencies intact, as 13 of 18 incumbent MPs switched to him in 2022. Shinde wants two extra seats, but BJP officials said they won't give more than 13. “The CM convinced the BJP leadership that he must retain the existing constituencies,” stated a senior BJP leader. "He informed them that sitting MPs had left with him when he divided the Shiv Sena and he had to keep their constituencies. The Shinde group could alter incumbent candidates or ‘borrow’ BJP candidates, like the Shiv Sena-BJP partnership did in Palghar in 2019 when Rajendra Gavit ran on a Sena ticket. BJP will likely fight four or five of six Mumbai seats. It won North, North-East, and North-Central in 2019. It is in talks with Shinde for Mumbai South, where assembly speaker Rahul Narwekar could run, and Mumbai North-West if Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar decides not to run against his son Amol, who has been nominated by Shiv Sena.A senior BJP official said, “We have conducted multiple surveys and told our allies that the alliance has better chances of winning maximum seats in Maharashtra if our party contests 32 to 35 seats.” We know Shinde will be embarrassed if we lower his seats while having 13 MPs. He is eager to make changes to assure strong prospects. Similar circumstances exist with our other supporter, Ajit Pawar.” Shinde wanted 18 seats and Ajit Pawar 8–9. The three parties' leaders met twice with union home minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah. The Shiv Sena's Bhavana Gawli and Hemant Godse are facing an anti-incumbency tsunami in Yavatmal-Washim and Nashik, respectively. The ruling parties are deciding how to proceed. A Shinde camp leader remarked, “They are unlikely to be renominated, and the party has no strong candidates there.” While acknowledging Shinde's claim of abandoning sitting constituencies, the BJP wants us to ‘borrow’ its candidates for greater possibilities. If union minister Narayan Rane declines to run in Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Kiran Samant from our party could be the BJP candidate.The leader stated seat-sharing and constituency and candidate exchange would be announced in two days. He added that the BJP may want an exchange of Mumbai North-West and Shirdi seats with Shinde Sena. Ajit Pawar won Raigad, Shirur, Baramati, and Parbhani from the BJP. Sitting Mumbai North-West MP and Shinde camp leader Gajanan Kirtikar stated, “Nothing has been finalised yet, though it is expected to be done in the next two days.” We expect our 13 constituencies to stay. We want to run in Mumbai's North-West and South-Central seats.”